In case you wondered, paternalism and fears of liability for potential injury will trump generalized health concerns about obesity and lack of exercise every time.
Want proof? Consider Weber Middle School in Port Washington, New York. School officials are concerned that kids are getting injured during recess. So, they’ve taken a proportionate response — they’ve banned footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, and any other object that might conceivably hurt someone. Oh, and tag also is banned, as are cartwheels. Presumably, even more violent games, like “red rover” and “smear the queer,” were banned long ago.
How ridiculous we’ve become! Generations of kids somehow managed to survive throwing a football or playing catch during recess. It was a good way to get some fresh air, blow off steam, and have some fun with your school buddies. Kids got some exercise in the process and came back into their classrooms with a little less energy and a little more ability to focus on algebra and chemistry and civics.
The school says it just wants its students to be “protected” in the wake of a rash of injuries. I’m sure that’s it — and there’s probably a desire to avoid potential lawsuits brought by angry parents, too. When I was a kid, no parent would even dream of suing their public school district, and no lawyers would consider taking such cases, either. Falls from the jungle gym and the occasional broken collar bone were just accepted parts of growing up. No longer!
We wonder why we have obese kids? We are so protective of youngsters that we take all of the fun out of play — and in the process make kids less and less likely to get any meaningful exercise. If you can’t play physical games, why not just retreat into your video game world where your digital counterpart can at least have some fun? Our paternalistic society is doing a tremendous disservice to our kids.